Thursday, February 29, 2024

Tiny Blocks, and other favorite things

I have had many unfinished Tiny Blocks left from the story boards I create to teach the process of making the blocks at my "Sew Small" guild. I decided it was finally time to get them sewn together. The photo below shows all of the blocks I have put together in the last few days. All of them had already been somewhere in the assembly process and on a story board I have used in the last couple of months.

 The 2 1/2" ruler and the rotary cutter help give you size perspective. Believe me when I say that even when I have them already cut and partially assembled, these do not go together quickly. And the one in the upper lefthand corner went together incorrectly. It is supposed to look just like the orange one below it. By the time I realized it was wrong, I was not prepared to pick it apart and start over. I just call it a new and very awkward design. :)

You can see that some of these blocks have a white background (which is not a batik), and others have a creamier colored background (which is a batik). As I finish these blocks I place them on different boards, according to whether they have the white background, or a batik background. Below are the white background blocks.

It is a little harder to get a nice, flat press with the white background, which is probably a Kona White. 

I started making these blocks about 3 years ago when Village Dry Goods sponsored The Tiny Club, taught by the mastermind behind these mini creations, Lynn Hopkins. At first I was making them out of reproduction prints, and I was using scraps from my cutting table, and leftover HSTs cut down to size. These are the blocks I made while a part of that club.

The teeny star in the center was one I cut with the wrong template and made too small, but I like it. This is as far as I got before the club ended, when Lynn went on an 18 month mission.

When I joined the Sew Small guild shortly before Lynn left on his mission, he was a member of the guild and had been teaching the blocks to them. I was asked to step in and teach while he was gone, and that is how I ended up doing this. I switched to batiks when I started teaching, knowing they would give a crisper example, but I started out pairing it with the white fabric, because I didn't have good backgrounds among my batik stash.

Once I found some good backgrounds in batiks, I have pretty much been using them exclusively, and below you see all of the blocks made completely from batiks.

Altogether I have over 60 completed blocks, but due to the different fabric types, they won't all end up in the same project. I am still playing with different ideas in my head as to what to do with them. I have two more months of teaching, which means I will be adding a few more blocks to the pile. And if you like random facts, 52 is the largest number of pieces so far in one of these 2" finished blocks!

The only other quilting I have done this month has been working on the binding for my Rocky Mountain Christmas quilt. I had waffled back and forth on what to use for the binding. Everything on the front so far had been from men's thrift store shirts, and I didn't want that to change, but I also didn't want the binding to be too terribly scrappy. There is already a lot of that going on in this quilt.

I dug through my shirt stash and finally came up with two that I thought would play nicely together. If you look closely at the photo you may be able to see where one shirt ended and another began. Only one of the two shirts was actually used in the quilt, but you'd have a hard time believing the other one wasn't in it as well.

A favorite wintertime activity is assembling puzzles. For my birthday last fall I was gifted this puzzle, and I finally had a chance to put it up this month. It was a fun one to do.

I received another similar (but different) puzzle for Christmas, but I think next I am slipping in a recent gift of a puzzle about the state of Maine. The giver knew I have enjoyed several visits there, most recently just last September.

Another favorite thing is my winter garden on my kitchen window sills. (you can click on this to get an enlarged view)

These orchids usually bloom from around December until late into the Spring, and often I am enjoying this riot of color while outside it looks like this...

If you enlarge this photo, what looks like speckles in the photo are the big, fat clumps of flakes that were falling from the sky.

And this is the same view a few days later, zoomed in a little, as the almost full moon rose this month. In the photo above, you cannot even tell there are mountains in the background, as the snow was coming down so heavily.

I hope you are doing well, wherever you live, whether it is winter or summer or somewhere in between. And I hope that you are finding time for the things that sooth your soul in these times of so much chaos. I have actually found, since picking up my violin again last fall, that it is very beneficial to my spirit to express my feelings through the music. And it doesn't take as long to play a few songs as it does to finish a quilt! ;)

I am pleased that I actually got a second post in during February (but only because February had an extra day). My hope is that in March I get more done than tiny blocks and binding!

Until then,

Be creative, and be kind.

Janet O.

One last photo looking out from the front deck. Can you see the bird up in the treetop? I believe it is a hawk.

These are the eastern mountains, and the color on them is the reflection of the sunset in the west. (In order to get the photo without the power lines, I would have had to run downstairs and outside. But I was afraid the hawk would be gone by the time I did that.) 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

So much for good intentions!

I am just going to pretend that it hasn't been over a month since I last posted, and go on as if I had posted twice in January, as I had planned. :)

I can't even say for sure how many weeks ago this little charmer arrived at my house, but it was a delightful surprise! 

This was made by Doniene Fullagar, who used to blog at "Now It's Just Quilts". She explained to me that I had loaned this magazine to her about a dozen years ago, and that is how our friendship began. The quilt looked very familiar, but I had forgotten all about loaning the magazine. She now has completed the top for the full sized quilt, but had also made this tabletop/wallhanging size for me. Isn't it beautiful? I am very touched, and it was delightful to be in touch with Doniene again. She is a sweetheart! Some of you may still see her on Instagram.

Well, I finally sewed the last row of my red/white mini Burgoyne Surrounded. When working this small, I pin things to within an inch of their life before stitching the rows together.

And here it is, laying on the red print I used in the blocks. My intention was to use this for the final border, but at the moment it isn't talking to me. However, I don't like the idea of pulling in a print that I haven't used anywhere else in the quilt, and I don't really want to use the solid for the final border. 

So I am leaving this out on the dining room table to see if it grows on me. I should have put my rotary cutter in this shot to give the needed size perspective. Just keep in mind that the smallest squares in the chains are 1/4". A completed block finishes at 3 3/4".

The only other stitching that has occurred since my last post has been in the "Tiny Block" department. We started up again on these blocks in my guild in January. The photo below shows you the finished blocks I have so far--this encompasses the ones I made in repro fabrics when I took the classes from the designer extraordinaire, Lynn Hopkins, at Village Dry Goods a few years ago. Since teaching it in my guild I have been making the blocks out of batiks.

Nothing beats batiks for pressing flat and keeping a sharp edge to a seam. When you work this small, it really helps. Remember that each of these blocks finishes at 2 inches.

I end up with multiples of some blocks because of the "story boards" I make that show the steps of construction. Then after teaching them, I sew up most of the samples. Below are the ones that I still need to stitch together from the last few sessions from last year, and this first session from this year.

This gives you a little better size perspective below, with three of the newest blocks.

Word on the street is that Lynn could be offering his patterns and rulers in some new sizes--a little larger--and even smaller! And there is also a possibility of a Zoom class from him on these blocks. I will share info here as I get it, in case any of you are interested in any of those options.

In my post just before Christmas I shared 3 quilts that were ready for binding that were NOT minis. They still need binding, and another one was added to the pile. This is the half log cabin I started to sew up after my shoulder surgery in 2018. I finished the top early in 2019, but just decided to get it quilted last year. I finished the quilting last year, too, but somehow missed the photos when I was posting in December.

For the center of the quilt I used Barb Vedder's Fan Stencil. I bought it when she first came out with it, but this is my first time using it. She has a great tutorial here. You can see in the photo above that I used a leaf stencil for the outer border. Wasn't my favorite choice, but it was the best option from what I had on hand.

I quilted it on Gidget (my HQ Sweet Sixteen). I had my longarm quilter baste it for me. It is worth it to me to have that done. And it wasn't difficult to remove the basting stitches afterward. But now I have a LOT of binding to get done! Do you stall on binding like I do? 

I don't have any stunning sunsets to share--for two reasons. First is that I have been doing my daily walks on the treadmill since our January snows made mud out of the dirt road I walk on, and the snowplows push the snow off the paved road onto the only place you can get out of oncoming traffic when you are walking (no sidewalks out here). Snowbank diving is no fun!

But we have had a lot of fog lately, so I will share this rather different view we've had of late.

Until next time (which should not be over a month away), be creative, and PLEASE be kind!

Janet O.